'Forest Boy', Aga, Bambi, Black-backed woodpeckers, feral child, fire ecology, Giant Sequoia, gingerbread house, Gopher Tortoise, goshawks, Grimms' Fairy Tales, indigo snakes, martens, mountain bluebirds, Mountain Grey Gum, Ponderosa pine, salamander, Where the Wild Things Are, wood-boring beetles
That first Spring, after the fierce infernos,
wood-boring beetles marched and drilled,
laying eggs in the bark of fallen trees.
Big, black-backed woodpeckers banged for their food,
gorging on larvae from smoked branches;
where lightning first struck, they found their store.
In dark cavities that they created,
the mountain bluebirds and martens soon moved in,
attraction for raptors and foraging
goshawks, which landed on the high, charred crowns
of Ponderosa Pine and Mountain Grey Gum.
Light shafted in so the Giant Sequoia
could establish seedlings on the burnt floor.
Burrowing animals emerged unscathed
from deep tunnels, or from cool river mud,
into snag forest. Gopher tortoise,
indigo snakes soon slithered into place.
Activated buds tentatively
opened, undeterred by the fired clearings.
Seeds germinated, soon they were sprouting,
all the stronger for their fiery trials.
From the blazes sprang up salamanders
of resurgence- scorched earth, ready for life.
I wandered into Costamuchamoulah must-seen cafe, clutching my tablet
and sat down next to Clammie and Carrie.
Did you read about that Forest Boy who tricked Berlin officials into giving him
the equivalent of £168 a month spending money as he had claimed that his
parents had died and he had no knowledge of his identity or where he had
come from? I asked them.
You mean he purported to be a kind of feral child? asked Clammie.
Yes, he said he had been living in the forest, I elucidated.
Carrie interrupted: Ooh, where the wild things are! I absolutely adored
Yes, I gave her a cautionary look and resumed, but his friends in the
Netherlands soon exposed his ruse, so now he has to do community
Life in the forest sounds like fun, Carrie continued. It is like a Grimms’ fairy
tale. Maybe he was brought up by a witch, threatened by a wolf, or basted,
ready to go into an Aga in some little gingerbread house.
Did they have Agas in gingerbread houses? asked Clammie.
Not so nice if there was a forest fire, I stated firmly. (Otherwise Carrie gets
carried away by the sentimental aspects of life, such as Agas.)
I suppose so, she admitted. Tiger-Lily used to become hysterical when we
watched Bambi, the video. She had post-traumatic stress disorder for
months afterwards. Bambi and mother fleeing the flames- oh, it was too
But fire is a good thing, I persisted. It regenerates arboreal life. We
understand so much more about fire ecology now.
Do we? asked Carrie, doubtfully.
Is that what you’ve been writing about today? Clammie enquired. Go on, hand
And she took my tablet, swiped it and, as Costamuchamoulah has Wi-Fi
connection, she was able to read the above.